I’m actually a little late in writing this review; I finished this book a few days ago but have been sick and not up to writing or doing anything besides sleeping really. I very much enjoyed reading “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory. When I picked it up, I had no idea what the story was about. I have concluded that often time’s books give away too much on the back cover, so I’ve stopped reading them and just let the whole book be a surprise. It wasn’t until I was almost completely done with the book that I realized the book was a historical fiction based off of Henry VIII.
In a way, I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know that was who the story was about because it left me guessing the whole time. The story is narrated by Mary Boleyn and tells the tale of her and her sister competing for the love of a king, Henry VIII. In the story, Mary catches the king’s eye not long after she is married. Her family is all too willing to separate her from her husband and provide the king with what he wants most—a male heir. In some ways it was astonishing how far this family would go to advance their own interests. At the same time, I know that life was very different back in the day and in order to advance your family, you had to play every card that you could. Women were used as pawns, being married off for wealth and titles and expected to bear sons.
The competition between Mary and Anne was rather frustrating for me to watch unfold. Anne showed her true colors many times throughout the novel. She was interested in advancing herself and could care less about those around her. Mary did her duty as a daughter and a niece, but at the same time wanted to just be with a man who loved her. I think that the author chose Mary to narrate the story because she is more innocent than Anne. Mary has many more traits that would be looked upon for a female lead to have. Anne is all perseverance and using whatever tools at her disposal to get what she wants. Mary has a simpler desire—to love and be loved in return. Anne does many horrible things in the book, one thing that she does to Mary specifically is so terrible that I had to put the book down and walk away from it I was so mad at her. I don’t want to say what it is in case you plan on reading this book, but you will know it when you see it.
One thing that Philippa Gregory did in this novel is she started the book and ended the book in the same way. It had a very nice way of rounding things out. Mary’s continued nativity is present in the very first scene of the book as well as the very last one. It was a nice touch.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a great read. Philippa Gregory tells the story beautifully. I think that more women would appreciate the novel than men, partly because it is told from a women’s perspective and partly because I don’t know many men who would appreciate historical fiction about two women competing for the love of a king.